Remember I told you about the friend who got me Daiya? I may have used it in everything. It turns out I am not a fan of the cheddar slices. It tastes too processed, a lot like those completely processed slices individually wrapped in plastic that you can get at the supermarket and that I never liked before I went vegan. But the mozzarella is a lot milder and I don't think people really notice the difference between this and what's on regular frozen pizzas. Anyway, it is really good so I put it on everything. I put it on a hummus-pesto-hybrid made from fresh green peas, pine nuts and mint. It was really good.
A little bit of sriracha gave it more of a kick, which I like. I am the only one in our household who likes the kick, so the sriracha and hot sauce lasts forever. The look of melty Daiya is different to melty dairy-cheese. This could be because I don't heat it high enough. I just find that it never really loses the shape of the shreds, even though it is melty and stretchy. But I know that you of the American blogosphere have heard more, more than enough about Daiya. You, for some incomprehensible reason, find Cheezly irresistible and exotic and marvelous.
Having had a chance to try Teese, Sheese, aforementioned Cheezly, Tofutti, Violife, Wilmersburger and Daiya, and some tofu-feta-goat-cheese thing from a Berlin health food store that was so good I had three blocks of it in 5 days, I can say that some of those have their use. I recommend you completely ignore the first three. They've ruined otherwise perfectly cheeselessly delicious meals for me. Tofutti slices are doable, but their cream cheese is perfect, exactly that same fatty, little bit bland, rich weird creamy thing that is regular cream cheese, with not a hint of soybean. Violife is quite similar to what you can get in Dutch supermarkets pre-sliced in packets, and the same goes for Wilmersburger. Quite nice, not a very outspoken taste, not melty, but good on a slice of bread, tastes exactly as much of plastic and nothing as supermarket cheese made from dairy does. I quite liked the Violife one with herbs, because that did have a taste that reminded me faintly of a nettle-cheese I at some point had a pregan obsession with. There was green bits in there, eating it was a nostalgic experience. Daiya is the only one of these that melts even somewhat realistically and the mozzarella (though it taste more like "all purpose cheese" to me, especially compared to the home made stuff) is good with almost anything. When I get back to Berlin, I will try and find the feta-chèvre-tofu again and then I'll let you know. Because it's the healthiest of these by far and it was super tasty, mainly because it didn't try too hard to be dairy cheese. I will also be taking ridiculous amounts of it back to the Netherlands with me if I ever find it again.
Right, my initial point of this post was that chili is really tasty with a handful of Daiya, and I made a discovery: they have smoked paprika powder at a store just a short bike ride away. If you're visiting the Netherlands and see a Dille & Kamille (translation: Dill & Chamomile) you should check it out, I sometimes just go there to be surrounded by pretty cookery-items. I had been looking for smoked paprika for the longest time and there it suddenly was, next to the cash register. It is the best thing ever to have happened to both chili and BBQ. And sauces. And tomato soups. And salads that need a bit of heat or smoke. And tofu rubs. I've found the sweet variety there as well, so now I put it in almost everything. It's like a really low-budget version of liquid smoke.
As you can see, my mum's cooking course is really paying off. The structure of her breads has improved drastically. I am learning from a distance, and have now learned to make the best pasta I've had in my life so far. Penne all' arrabbiata is something new, but it's a kind of spicy even my family enjoys on occasion. And you can make it as spicy and with as much vegetables as you want. It takes a maximum of 20 minutes? 30 if I am very precise and finicky about it. So you should try it. I used a Jamie Oliver recipe (without dead anchovies of course), because his method of cooking is roughly similar to that of the course. You cook your pasta until just south of al dente (for me, with spaghetti that's probably 5 minutes, 6 with a bigger pasta) and then cook it the rest of the way with a cup of cooking water added to the sauce (takes me 3 minutes usually). It makes for a really nice bite and a sauce that actually sticks to your pasta without clumping or the need for olive oil to prevent said clumping. Nigella Lawson uses the same method. It's so simple and so much better that I don't know why we didn't start cooking pasta like this years ago!
September 16th, 2014
Bananas were apparently in the air. Because Hipsterfood, the tumblr by the people behind the previously mentioned and raved about Chickpea Magazine, had some great and specific tips on banana soft-serve that would complement my suggestions for the ice cream. So you should definitely check that out.
I am currently taking care of the fat cat. Some of her teeth had to be taken out because she was super-smelly and it looked bad. The doctor said we weren't too late, no irreversible damage. Four teeth were pulled because they were mushy. I always thought stuff like that was nonsense, it's a cat, it needs neither dentist nor pedicure. But it got so smelly that when she yawned you wanted to leave the room, and it made her coat stink. I can't for the life of me get her the take the antibiotics. It is impossible to put a pill inside of the cat without her coughing it back up. It usually means that we both hate each other for a few days and I have to heal from scratches and she from psychological trauma. Luckily I was able to give her the liquid painkiller and we put something in her water that should also help, and I checked the temperature of her jaw and she is still fine and almost back to her old self. She's still a bit queasy sometimes. But she smells fine now, no longer like death and fish, but clean and fluffy, just like the other cat.
I also built the cats some stairs, because they kept thundering down the wall and land with a thud on the concrete and that looked really painful! They learned how to use it after some "encouragement" (of me pushing them up the little stairs), and have been doing so since the third day after stair-construction. We have nosey neighbors, they stare at us and the things happening in the neighborhood disapprovingly either from behind the curtain of from the second floor the entire fucking day (please shoot me if I ever become that kind or sour, depressed pensionado), it is well and truly unpleasant. But the cats have taken to sitting on the top of the stairs and staring back. This feels like a happy form of poetic justice, one that just happens without any effort and is actually kind of adorable.
September 9th, 2014
I often wonder if I atropomorphise my cats too much. I guess it won't hurt them if I think of them as tiny furry humans, hell, they probably think of me as a huge relatively clumsy cat. At least that's what the book suggests. But I also talk to them an awful lot and I feel like they respond (they are quite vocal in their responding mews and those for attention), and it's a bit like how I used to talk to my teddy bear all the time, but as though he's more stubborn and preoccupied with trying to take the ergonomic desk-chair from me because it is the best place for sleep (and work).
What finally convinced me that we (even though they are cats and I am human and we have to respect each others differences) are quite similar creatures, is Captain James Tiberius Kirk (the original). I am more a TNG and Voyager fan (with a huge Garak-weakness), and you can wake me up for Commander Tucker any time of night. I am not so much fan of TOS because it is difficult not to laugh or fall asleep because of the very lengthy pauses and stage-like over-acting common in the 60's. But then there's Kirk (and Nichelle Nichols, but let's save descriptions of her brilliance for a future post). Don't get me wrong, it is completely logical that Spock became the sex symbol. But I react to Kirk the way my cats react to butterflies. Whatever I'm doing, if there is Kirk, I will become pre-occupied, somewhat nervous and unusually giggly (they sort of hiccup/bark at birds and flying creatures, not giggle). And then I will stare at it transfixed. I won't say that I start batting at the computer screen, but I cover my mouth with my hands every now and again in excitement. And then they stare at me like I stare at them when they are catching butterflies. Although they're mostly annoyed that I dare use their bed for such mundane activities as watching TV or movies, reading books or, god forbid, sleeping. It is no longer their bed, but that's only because the three of us have developed a communal sleeping pattern.
To go with the Kirk and aloof cats, you should probably make banana-sorbet. There's so many recipes on the internet that you hardly need my extra input, but I should say that I usually add some extra maple syrup to the sour cherries, and have added chocolate chips on occasion. It was really good. It's not "just like ice cream, yum" (Kristina really gets on my nerves), but it is very fast and an excellent snack on those nights when you just want to watch movies and be emotional about it. There will be different ice cream snacks soon, it has been a hot summer, but this one will do in a pinch! Also, huge coconut flakes are my new favorite thing. I bought them to try out coconut bacon, but I haven't gotten around to it yet because they are so tasty when you toast them and put them in the ice cream. Oh, and always add vanilla. It makes the sorbets go from "quite good and fruity" to "what is this ambrosia (sort of)".
I'll leave you with something only mildly Star Trek related: Shatner does Common People. Thank you, popular culture, for making this possible. Maybe next time we will discuss the ins and outs of Cardassian politics, or the Pulp biography I'm reading. I think we can safely say that both my friends and parents are happy that I have you, unknown audience, to share all of this with, because none of them seem to share my fascination with Star Trek, sci-fi in general, or the way women are portrayed vs. men in Pulp songs.
September 4th, 2014
Today I will be discussing two cookbooks that actually fell prey to their blog's brilliance (and one that didn't). Let me start with one of the first vegan books I bought, because it was one of the first vegan blogs I ever stumbled upon (just googling "vegan blog"): Vegan Yum Yum. I actually (unsuccessfully, alas) tried to seduce someone with her recipe for cinnamon buns once. The buns can't be faulted for my bad choices. And don't get me wrong, Lolo's cookbook is great, inventive recipes, lots of them, lovely pictures, very comprehensive. A pocket-version without the helpful general directions and background info of Veganomicon. She also taught me a lot of food photography tips and tricks, so you can partially blame her for my relentlessly keeping up the iphone snapshots against a painfully blue deck table and/or chair. But the cookbook also has lots of schmancy picknick and sandwich and dinner-party stuff and really nice pancakes. A nice combination of staples and food for a special occasion. Only point is that her blog probably has even more, even better recipes! The cinnabons are on the blog, not in the book, so there you go. And that's where we come to Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking.
The cinnamon rolls are in the book this time. They're gluten-free yeast-free cinnamon buns, does it get much better than that? Ok, I haven't had time to bake them yet, but Cara's track record is excellent, so I don't doubt for a second that this recipe will be a resounding success. Anyway, the cookbook is nice and has more tips on replacing gluten and eggs then The Complete Guide To Vegan Food Substitutions did. But then her blog Fork and Beans has those tips as well. And the book is just desserts, her blog has everything. And I am more of a savory person. I will bake until I'm blue in the face, but in the end potato chips are my weakness, not vanilla cake with frosting. I will gladly leave all of the cakes and frostings alone for just one fatty salty crispy crunchy nibble. In short, even though I think it's really nice to support Cara, I also feel the book is overshadowed by the amazing stuff she makes on her blog.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is on the other end of the spectrum. And looking at Deb's blog, you might not guess there's much more to cook and bake and write about. But there is! And the cookbook has some really nice overviews, tips for what to serve when and store how, all of those things. How she ended up with a recipe, why it works, what makes it worth making. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook gave me some never before seen original (egg- dairy- and dead-animal-heavy) recipes that just keep working for me no matter how I veganize them. Even more so than her blog. There are some vegetarian recipes, Deb was a vegetarian at some point. And even though I might be morally opposed to the killing of defenseless chicken, I will wholeheartedly recommend this book to you (along with the page on the Smitten Kitchen blog with everything labeled vegan). There's quite a few recipes in the book and on the blog that just don't particularly appeal to me, but Deb is brilliant when it comes to flavor combo's, presentation, party planning and ideas for dates (as if I ever have dates, hah). Deb announced a new book recently, and I'll surely get that when it comes out. I can only hope there's a vegetarian (or perhaps vegan?) chapter in her second book as well, and I will happily keep marinating seitan and tofu in place of the dead flesh!
So in conclusion: all three of the books probably add something to the information on the blogs that they sprung from, but in different amounts. If you're looking for a good starting point to vegan food in general, Vegan Yum Yum is an nice place to start. If you are a lover of food and stories about Deb's husband's Russian family, and don't mind some veganizing, I would go for that one because it is the best one out of the three. But if you have a kid that's gluten-intolerant I'd know what I'd buy if I ever needed to give treats to their class or something. And then I'd probably bake those cinnamon buns.
On a helpful gluten-free sidenote: millet flour has a very distinctive taste, and I think I might avoid it from now on. It's not that I am against said taste in every situation, it's just that I am not fond of it in my baked goods. It was something my mum and I discovered (with an awkward giggle) at about the same time we bit into a millet-flour-based bagel. And then I had to think about Mitchell & Webb.
August 26th, 2014
I recently bought some nail polish because I decided to maybe try my hand at performing again, and try to recapture some of the magnificence that was Horseboy. And to be Horseboy or a slightly shifty somewhat genderless 80's alter ego, one needs nail polish. A day later Vegan Cuts made a video about their summer nail polish box. In it they discussed a bottle by Black Sheep Nail Lacquer. I checked out all of the brands in the video, but as soon as I found Black Sheep, I knew I'd found my kind of polish. So I emailed Erin (who owns Black Sheep and makes all of the polishes) to ask about the colors of her chemical-light completely vegan product! We both love Zelda. I saw she also has tiny bottles (I don't use enough nail polish for the performances to ever finish a big bottle), and she was able to send me some along with a base coat and super shiny topcoat. There's also a matte topcoat, a holographic one and a thermal one. But I'd definitely recommend the super shiny, it is well and truly super shiny and beautiful. Anyway, Erin informed me that she could send 6 bottles for 10 dollars shipping, so I asked for 3 colors I liked, a base coat, a top coat, and a surprise. Isn't that the nicest thing? That you know the person who makes your nail polish and she will send you a surprise? I asked her to send something that wasn't red or more pink, because I am not a big fan of the classics, and Horseboy is a boy, so he needs masculine polish.
Ok, on to the review of the actual lacquer. Otherwise this post will just be me raving about Erin, and even though that's fun, it might not be very helpful to you, 12 readers who probably don't care about nail polish. Don't judge a book by my swatches. I tried to capture it on camera, but the picture doesn't do it justice. The Jaw Breaker is a bit pink when you use it by itself, but still absolutely delightful. I used it with every other lacquer on the left of each nail as you can see, and it is gorgeous combined with the deep purple (and the other ones, but especially the purple). Suddenly it's not just pink, but the green glitter pops out :). As for the Black Sheep color, it's a deep black with a hint of silver, but still quite subtle. The orange-purple duo chrome Dark Knight might be the loveliest nail polish I have ever seen, and Erin included an almost grey purple-silver polish with tiny jade glitter in there as the surprise. It's only because I love the purple one so much that this isn't the prettiest nail polish I've ever seen, but OMG those green glitters in there! It matches perfectly with the other three. For those of you not trying to be Adam Ant: Erin has all of the colors, from the most girly pink and vampy 50's red to the scariest Star Trek purple-green. And more if you ask her nicely, really, just contact her and she has stuff you couldn't dream up in your wildest dreams.
Now you guys know I'm a fan of the hyperbole, but I can't begin to tell you how nice it is to buy stuff from a person with a vision and a passion for making peoples nails shiny instead of just some faceless company called China Glaze. They are cool too, but they're no Black Sheep. Also, you will need to find some (vegan) polish remover, and so far I have not been successful, but I still have some Zoya (some of their stuff is vegan) left from last year and at least it smells good? So I will keep using that. Ok, to wrap this up: the polish is relatively affordable, especially compared to Zoya! I think the price is super reasonable, especially when you consider the handmade part. And I think it's so much nicer to have tiny bottles with more different colors, instead of big ones that you can never finish. You need about two or three thin coats to make it work, and it goes on quite well. It's a little bit fiddly, but putting paint on your nails with a tiny brush is always fiddly. The smell is ok, just like the China Glaze and Zoya polishes. It just smells like nail polish, and will stop smelling after about a day. You'd smell better without it on your hands, but then your nails would not be gorgeous and sparkly, and you know you want to be gorgeous and sparkly and wearing red fake leather pants with a crop top. You know you do!
PS. I went to see the Pet Shop Boys last week. It was repulsively expensive, but it's also some of the best money I've ever spent. What it lacked in spontaneity it more than made up for in excellence, joy and stage design. I have never seen such amazing lighting design, nor such striking costumes! Both the dancers and the almost theatrical use of music with images deserve a mention as well. Did I mention they are excellent live? And the audience was also super nice and enthusiastic, it was no problem at all to be there by myself and I actually met an acquaintance there and that was fun. I usually feel a bit awkward at concerts, but a very tall woman and her equally tall boyfriend actually made sure my 5 ft could stand in front of them and watch as well as dance! So if you ever get the chance: go see them IRL. They are every bit as good as you'd expect from their reputation. The only concert I've seen that was better so far, was Iggy Pop on Lowlands, with Thomas Azier as a close third. And oh, those cow-skull-80's-hair-band-masks, they are a brilliant work of art, even better live :). Also, they played Rent, Thursday, It's a Sin and Miracles. The only way they could've made it better, is if they'd have played Flamboyant. But I'm not complaining. I am still on a cattle-skull-induced high! Just as I left I heard a guy remarking to his boyfriend: "They played our song, just like nine years ago when we met". That is the cutest thing I've ever heard anyone say at a concert!
August 18th, 2014
The very first oops is forgetting to post this. I never hit publish. It has been sitting in the "drafts" inbox for 7 weeks now? So here goes, belatedly, but still. We now know it takes roughly three and a half weeks for an eyebrow to grow back.
At some point (instead of buying a shirt with 50 Cent as a gorgeous specimen of over-trained man-meat on the front) I decided to attempt a mindfuck by adopting the stripe-y shaved eyebrow thing in the retro-manner of Vanilla Ice (or indeed the manner of 50 Cent). In a non-gender-normative overthought hipster kind of way. I have recently taken to wearing ridiculous heels with very big sweaters and very hairy everything else. Actually, only the heels are new, and the hairy-part is because I refuse to apologize for it any longer. I am woman hear me roar! With the eyebrows, I thought it'd be perfect because a 5 ft feminist woman looking like a misogynist rapper, that's hilarious. And if anyone has the dark, contrasting, and ample eyebrows for it, it would be me. However, it turns out these shaved stripes require a very experienced or expensive stylist or just someone with a more precise trimmer than the one I have. Because I am currently missing 1/4th of an eyebrow. No amount of powder will cover it up. I look like a mutant Vulcan-human hybrid, but in a bad way. How long does it take for eyebrows to grow back?
Second oops is this instant popcorn thing. It is very boring and tasteless, whilst still being almost as fat and unhealthy as deep-fried potato crisps. The next time, I will just take the crisps. I saw it, for only half a euro, but not only is that still massively more expensive than making it yourself from kernels, it is also way less delicious. It tastes of styrofoam, whilst freshly popped popcorn popped in a layer of olive oil is fragrant, healthier and you can season it yourself (with smoked paprika! or dill, or black pepper, or attempt something vaguely cheesy, etcetera). I dislike microwaves unless used to defrost or on Mary Berry's instruction with regards to lemons. Even chocolate won't melt in them properly! And this popcorny-stuff was gross. Never buy it, it is evil (and has yucky oil).
Now for the yay-part. I am afraid I have to agree with Dylan Moran: yes, that is exactly how I feel about shoes. I'm not sure if I agree with the rest of his statement, men don't strike me as overly sentimental either, but as far as it concerns me and shoes, it is true, even if it is autosexist (is that a word?). Yes, I know, I am a bad, bad unethical consumer, but a bad unethical consumer who's grown 5 inches instantly. I still look like a recently born giraffe that fell all the way down and has trouble getting up (or in and out of chairs), but in a good way. Proud, colourful, still somewhat wobbly, but not at all unattractive. Also, for men who don't understand heels, I somewhat sympathise, I used to have the same thing, and still have it more days than not. But maybe you should just try it. It's like Eddie Izzard says: equal clothing rights for all. Also, there's something about men in heels when done right that you just can't argue with, be it in classic or more modern incarnations. I advise anyone still unconvinced to look at Chiwetel Ejiofor in heels. Just, wow! Maybe not a look ányone can pull of, but more should try. Well, that was all very off-topic. If nothing else, you now know not to attempt a 50-cent-vanilla-ice-look on your own.
August 10th, 2014
An American-Dutch friend promised to hook me up with some Daiya, and when someone can get me Daiya, I try to be generous. Because it is the most delicious cheese in existence (Cheezly is seriously foul, and though Tofutti is not unpleasant, Daiya is the only one of which I can't make a better replica at home). There is no cruelty involved in making it and it is very very cruel that it is not widely available. I suspect that if it were freely available in the Netherlands at roughly the same price as dairy cheese, then lots of health-conscious folk (or creepy dieters) would switch because it tastes so good, and all the vegans would be in heaven. But I had to try and make something Daiya-worthy to give in return, and so I found this and decided to make a variation on a theme. My friend is a peanut butter aficionado. I started out planning to make it exactly the same, but halfway through the recipe (I was baking with my sister and a friend of ours) we fell back on good old Chocolate Mousse Pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky. And it took some (2 tsp) cornstarch to make the coconut-peanutbutter-topping work. My coconut milk never produces decent whipped cream even though it isn't homogenized, and I don't know why it doesn't. And then it all looked too good not to marble. I am really pleased with the end-result, and the tiny heart inside of a bigger heart was a welcome surprise. I only recently started marbling all of the pudding and mousse cakes. I never knew it could make pies look so good!
The cake was better than I thought it would be, and not nearly as heavy as I suspected. I also tweaked the crust a bit to make it less fat (only 6 tbsp of oil, and a little bit of soy milk), and it was still ok. It would work wonders with some kind of caramel filling or anything mocha. Banoffee and dulche de leche both seem excellent candidates. However, the next day, once it got soggy, it was really bad. And it didn't hold a candle to the shortbread-crust anyway. If I may suggest something: use the (chocolate) shortbread crust. It's the best crust I've ever made, easier than most, only a few pies don't go well with it. I wouldn't use it for a cheesecake, a cookie-crust is better for that, and I sometimes use the almond crust for creamy fruit-pies or raw pie-filling (I do bake the crust, because I found I dislike raw pie crusts or the time they take to dehydrate). But for the rest of them, unless you're making a savory tart, I'd almost always recommend a shortbread crust. You can keep one frozen for emergencies, and use it whenever you need it. It saves time and effort. For this one I think you could equally well use a cookie-crust with an extra pinch of salt, or the chocolate shortbread crust and then add some coarse sea salt to the topping. If you are into salty-sweet combinations.
What more did I want to discuss. Right, theatre and television.
Firstly, I saw the best Hamlet I've seen in my life so far. It made me realize how completely irrelevant the sex of an actor can be with regards to the characters gender. And how seeming contradictions there can even enhance a performance. I am still not completely sure what to think of the play, but it stayed with me, I've never seen a more gripping and current Hamlet (even though both the filmed one with David Tennant and the performance I saw by Oostpool were fantastic), and if it is not the best play I ever saw, it is a close second or third. A bit like seeing the recent "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" by Oostpool. You suddenly remember why it will always be worth it to keep "doing" the classics. And for those of you not in the Netherlands, I suggest you go to Digital Theatre right now and watch Much Ado About Nothing. I very much enjoyed all 2 and a half hours of it, and am planning to rent the Swan Lake next! It is wonderful to be able to sit in bed with your iPad and watch a performance you could never have visited in person. It's not nearly the same experience, but it is amazing and I think a very good development in theatre. This should happen with the amazing obscure stuff that nobody gets to see as well!
Having finished Father Brown, I decided to start on Death in Paradise. I am so sad that is now finished as well. I have a special weak spot for Detective Sergeant Fidel Best, not in the last place because of his name, and more importantly: he is absurdly handsome. Like a young Colin Firth, but with a more seductive accent and a moustache! Even when he wears the ridiculous policeman's hat. And I wish more policemen had the attitude of Dwayne, who actually owns an "undercover shirt". As in: "Hey Dwayne, I thought you were doing surveillance, you are wearing your undercover shirt." The stories are often hilarious, and most of the murder-mysteries have suprisising and ingenious solutions. The Miss-Marple-gathering-everyone-together-end-scene is a hoot, and I think Utrecht needs a bar like Catherines. Saving the best for last: I can only aspire to be as cool a person as Sergeant Camille Bordey. Whatever was lost by not having Lady Felicia, was gained tenfold by having a Sergeant Borday. Sergeant beats Lady any day! Did I mention there is a pet lizard?
August 3rd, 2014
First: an update on last week's feminism. In the comments, Arlette explained a thing a friend and I discovered that we didn't understand why she thought it was a blurred-out hotdog and I had picture proof of the contrary. So thank you for pointing that out! It cleared up a lot. And I hope the stencil was any good :) and that christians were only mildly offended. I was on a roll with regards to angry feminism! I ended the week by ranting about the availability of women's bodies as objects in our popular culture and how this stops us from developing into shameless, free-spirited cranky drug-dependent old bats who ban together to make horrible theatre about even worse subjects just because they are outrageous and a national treasure. There should be hordes of people doing that, and not just has-been middle-aged white dudes with a good pianist. Also, I biked past a different 538 advert and was surprised to see that it featured a gentleman firmly grasping a water-bottle clasped between his legs. You can't tell me that doesn't send a very different message from the one with the two women fellating meat. It made me think how I interpret that and the semiotics of each image, especially if I place them next to eachother. There's some discrepancy there. But like I said, if people truly want to express their sexuality by suggestively licking meat, they should. There's just a huge difference between expression, and using either images of denigration (women licking) or power (men taking their, uhhh, pleasure into their own hands) to sell stuff. Because it perpetuates a certain set of outdated yet ingrained and widely held beliefs, so it's not just harmless "fun" we should (or can) ignore.
Secondly: time to discuss vegan magazines! I subscribe to three different ones. I used to subscribe to the Vegetarian Times as well, but they were like a worse, cheese-laden version of VegNews, so no more! And speaking of the latter, there has been some internal struggle there (recently, I don't mean the dead animal scandal a few years back), and I am not sure what to think of it. I misunderstood the situation at first, because one of the founders, Mr. Connelly, is not being very dignified about personal grievances, or that's what I gather. It's a shame and I hope it can be resolved in a way that neither people nor magazine suffer even more. And I love that publication! I got some of my favorite, most-used recipes from them. I may have gotten an iPad just so I could draw in Paper and read VegNews, and I still do both quite a lot. Then there is LAIKA. I love the fact that they are independent, I love the fact that they had J-Wro, and they do have some really nice tips and a few good cookbook recommendations. I hope they catch up with the issues they said they'd publish by the end of this year. If I am correct, after two year-subscriptions, there should be eight, but that seems ambitious if they are just now releasing issue 4. It is very much a lifestyle magazine, and I am more vegan food than lifestyle, so even though they are really cool, I prefer Chickpea Magazine. Chickpea is so lovely it's almost magical, also independent, and if you want, you can actually contribute articles! How amazing is that? It is, compared to the other ones, super affordable and they have recipes, gardening tips, and the best photography. Sometimes they have recipes for personal care stuff, or reviews. The magazine is seasonal. The way they discuss the lifestyle-part of veganism is completely different to LAIKA, and it is more my style. They do make me buy cookbooks (and I can't blame them for it, because they pointed me to two of my absolute favorites: Afro Vegan and Vegan Secret Supper). It has never once made me feel inadequate or not living up to certain standards of beauty, nutrition or ethics, which is something I can't say for the other two, no matter how great they are. It's just my kind of magazine! The last issue has sundaes, but the one before that had marshmallows (still working on those) and things made with whipped flaxseed-meringue. Yes, really! And for roughly 10 euro's for 4 digital issues, it's so very much worth it. As Edwyn Collins would put it: it's a steal.
We should probably also do some vegan e-book reviews soon, because I have a huge collection of those. Well, not as huge as the physical collection that is still slowly expanding, but still substantial with a few amazing gems in there. I am currently really excited about two upcoming gluten-free books, because one of them promises to have puff pastry, and I am just a huge Fork & Beans fan! I also did quite a bit of gardening, and some redecorating inside and outside, and I have lost most of my black thumb of death. I promise to discuss the ins and outs of this in the future, as well as the decoration of my lovely balcony. It is the only one in the neighborhood that's this green and vibrant (and full of cats). I will leave you with the following short philosophical lecture on the subject of gardening (it's in English even though the article is Dutch). It is deep and thoughtful and exactly the kind of thing I would some day like to lecture about with regards to theatre and modern culture. I will also leave you with a link to a site I am both very excited about and really creeped out by. It is a lovely way to illustrate some of the issues regarding privacy and meta-data, but it is also something that genuinely thrilled me. Before you ask: no, mine aren't on there. So instead I'll inform you of the following: I know this cat, he is surprisingly agile considering his size and I once looked for about 15 minutes at him chasing another cat, petting them in turn from behing a bicycle they were fighting over, and this reduced college-gradution-related anxiety substantially. I've decided it's a he because of his size.
July 27th, 2014
You all know I am a very cuddly artist. I may get argumentative when there's a discussion, but I mainly walk around with a horse's head and I give out cake to strangers. But somehow these things sometimes attract a little hostility, even though that's the last thing I'm looking for. So when I decided (with my trusty, very removable, neon chalk-markers specifically made for glass and windows to be removed with just water once you're done with it and which explains why it's so badly visible in the picture) to comment on a piece of advertising so vile it kept me fuming for 5 hours, a man walks up to me to discuss my "defacing public space".
I tried to argue that that is how I feel about the advertisement, that it defiles the public space and peoples right to not be confronted with corporate-sponsored denigrating images. I tried to argue that the markers are specifically chosen because they are easily removable. But he wasn't just offended by my message and method, but also by the fact that I wrote it in English (which was for your benefit, guys) so therefore I must be uneducated and not know Dutch. This, in the context of our discussion, sounded to me like a racist remark, but I'm not certain it was meant as such. He ended with that it was "just plain rude and unacceptable". At that point I decided to stop explaining, ignore him and continue "defacing" with him still shouting a bit from a distance, but I fucked up the grammar because of my nerves. He left after I ignored him for some time. He was rather large, argumentative, very loud and he had an impressively ratty mustache, and as much as I'd have liked to not be affected by that, I was. So, enjoy my grammatically incorrect book recommendation of the week. Go read The Sexual Politics of Meat, go veg, be feminist, I will love you for it and try not to judge you anyway. Even if you are an argumentative intimidating shouty man who does not see the harm in two women fellating meat.
On a more positive note, I've added another piece of angry feminist "art" to this post. I saw a lovely gentlemen wearing a shirt that said "reduce your CO2, grow a bush", and this made me like him immediately. I wish that message was spread more widely. Then there was a Sherlock episode in which John shaves his moustache for Sherlock (cue awkward fan fiction). I agreed very much with John's message and Mary's suggestion that he should put it on a t-shirt. So I did. The stencil may or may not be a stylized representation (to scale!) of the artist's body, and trying to take the picture on which the stencil is based might have been one of the most slapstick-hilarious things the artist has ever done with a chair and a camera. Ok, I'm off to watch some Veronica Mars now and get back to calm. In my household, there's only one man, and he happens to be my dad and also to be very much in favor of giving the neon-colored finger to intolerant powers that be. He thought I was using permanent ink-marker and felt rather disappointed it was just chalk.
If you want to use the stencil, you can download it here. You need to stick the bellybutton on it with a tiny piece of duct tape, but the rest is stencil-proof.
PS. Do men regularly experience this thing where they go outside of their homes and see fellow men spread-eagle, or with mouths open, or licking suggestively at/strokingly holding on to phallic objects or just looking available next to a designer-item everywhere they look? It depresses me and I'm done with it. I don't want to see the men suffering this fate either. I just want a little bit more free expression and a little bit less intrusive mass-marketed corporate shit all over the place! Then you can display as many titillating images as you'd want, as long as it is a form of expression, not the use of the human body to sell stuff or control people. If it turns out to be your deepest desire, you can stand by the traffic lights completely naked, enthusiastically licking 2 sausages at once for all I care. Come see me, I do a great french or italian sausage and know where you can get a performance license!
July 15th, 2014
I've supported Vegan Mashup twice so far. And right now, I am really loving the second season. No matter how much fun it is to see Miyoko Schinner make "unbirds", it is even better to watch her feed the chickens, and have Fran Costigan talk about ethical vegan chocolate. She looks lovely by the way, and I thought she looked a bit scary from the picture in the Vegan Chocolate book. Back on topic: you can buy and or rent it on Vimeo On Demand, and I suggest you do. Especially for the second season. And also because it is a good thing to support people making a vegan cooking show. And it is wonderful to see people with awesome knife skills. Also, I want chickens. Maybe when I grow up and decide not to have cats. Who am I kidding, just look at my cats, you can't say no...
On a completely different note: Father Brown. I did not think I wanted to see a Catholic priest solve surprisingly tepid crimes, my associations with priests are of a less fortunate nature and I recently helped desecrate a church, but I can go for this. He is the epitome of reasonability and rational thought, and maybe a bit more open minded than the Catholic church allows, but I am all for open-mindedness, forgiveness, and rational thought. If you remove the hat, glasses, uncanny ability to end up on a murder scene and the frequent use of the word "God", you are quite close to who I am in a black maxi-dress. I suggest you start with "Ladies of Jerusalem", it is hilarious and wonderful. And Lady Felicia is an absolute joy, as is Mrs. McCarty obnoxiousness.
June 9th, 2014